Couple brings enamelware back home

| June 16, 2016

001WEST LAFAYETTE – Floyd and Lois Gress of Johnson Street in West Lafayette, have an impressive collection of enamelware in their garage. When people walk in, they stand in awe at the amount of enamelware the two have purchased from garage sales and antique stores all across the country and even into Canada. They both say that they feel as if they’re bringing the enamelware back home to West Lafayette, which was once known as the enamelware capital of the world.

West Lafayette Stamping Company started in the 1800s and made enamelware. It was later bought out by Walter Moore in 1923 and became Moore Enameling Manufacturing Company. The business made mostly kitchenware enamel including stock pots, pans, ladles, and the like. Jones Metal also made enamelware in West Lafayette, but their focus was more on medical supplies such as bedpans and utensils. The Gresses collect enamelware from both companies and even have some enamel made by the West Lafayette Stamping Company.

“Floyd and I started going to his brother’s auction and we saw the enamelware and thought it would be fun to collect,” said Lois. “We started going to flea markets and yard sales whenever we would travel and look for it.”

During his last count, Floyd said he and his wife have acquired 1,549 pieces of enamelware. The couple has been collecting for more than 20 years. Lois said that some pieces are still put to good use as she uses them in her cooking occasionally, especially for special events.

Among the more notable enamelware they have collected are enamelware table tops, pitchers made during the Second World War, bedpans made by Jones Metal for the army, salesman’s items which were smaller versions of the product that salesmen were trying to sell that they would carry with them when selling door-to-door, 80-year-old glass baby bottles, and even metal baby baths. They also have some enamelware with the Betsy Ann pattern, named after Moore’s daughter.

“We enjoy them,” said Lois. “And everyone who comes in enjoys them too.”

Floyd said it takes approximately two weeks to clean all 1,549 pieces in the collection, but it’s worth it. His mother and father worked at Moore’s, along with his uncles, aunts, cousins, and two brothers.

“They used to throw away the seconds of the bedpans and when we were kids, we’d used to find them and used them to go sledding in the snow,” said Floyd. “You’d get on one of those bedpans, and you never knew where you’d end up. They’d go fast in the snow.”

Along with enamelware, Lois collects Shaw Barton calendars, little oil lamps, buttons, political badges, baskets, crocks, cups, and key rings. She said she gets her passion for collecting from her mother whose first collection was a shoe collection that a patient gave her when she worked at a tuberculosis hospital.

“If you are a collector, don’t put your collection in a closet,” said Floyd. “Put it out where people can enjoy it and you can enjoy it yourself.”

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

Comments (2)

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  1. I just found a piece of enamel ware that still has part of the Moore company sticker on it. I would like to see if the Gress' are interested.

  2. I just found a piece of enamel ware that still has part of the Moore company sticker on it. I would like to see if the Gress' are interested.